I hope we can all agree that songs are as important as the sermons from our teachers in telling the total story line of God. Our songs are important in total scope in how they develop a broader mentality, but this also does not negate the fact that songs are also important in textual specifics.
Those who write lyrics, or share them with others, are responsible for the words they put on the lips and in the hearts of people. Though not all people will scrutinize every word of the songs they listen to (and they should), those who give or write songs for others, like a song leader at a church or an artist, are held to a higher pastoral responsibility. The words we sing shape people’s faith and worldview and are thus a serious responsibility.
Scripturally we can classify song texts into five functions as to whether they are Proclamation, Petition, Praise, Exhortation or Call to Action. With these designations, we can examine songs with biblical function in mind. We can also look at a songs lyric’s strengths and weaknesses in allusion to story, Trinitarian language, references to God, corporate Ethos, sentence structure, diction, coherence, sound, melody, harmony, rhythm, compatibility with music and text, and singability.
One might ask the question, “why is this important—sounds like jot and tittle micromanaging?” Well, first of all our palate is at stake. When Proverbs implores parents to train a child in the way they should go, the Hebrew word Paideia is used for the work of training. Paideia literally refers to training a child’s palate to have a taste for the finer things in all of life. We must do the same in our singing and lyrics. We must parent the palates of those singing to have an appetite for the best art, the best creativity and for the savory-ness of the gospel in craft.
*For further reading in the Bible: Deuteronomy 32; Song of Solomon 1; Song of Solomon 2; Song of Solomon 3; Song of Solomon 4; Song of Solomon 5; Song of Solomon 6; Song of Solomon 7; Song of Solomon 8
Learn how to share God’s story through song in a more total, textual, tonal and targeted way in this 6-Day Study, and at The Garden City Project. Accompanying this study is over 300-Hours of video footage from 150 of today’s top Christian thinkers on culture, creativity, innovation, and invention at www.makejesusculture.com.